Is it time for your business to reach the next level? If you found this post, then chances are that next level involves an online presence. Great! Now where do you begin?
This post will cover the most basic first steps to getting your business online.
Step 1: Choose a Platform
The title says it all; it is the base on which your website will stand. For newbies and even those with some knowledge of websites and coding, WordPress is the most popular choice for a platform. It is used by over 50 percent of all websites. It is easy to use and most of the work has been done for you by a host of developers and web designers. Many beginners try out DIY website builders like Wix, and advanced users choose options like Joomla and Drupal. From my experience, though, my professional opinion will always be a vote for WordPress.
Step 2: Choosing a Domain Name
What will your site be called? What is your business niche? What is your focus? Use these answers to come up with a name. Write down several and then check online to see if the one you want is available. It may take a few tries to find one you like that no one has taken. Keep it as short as possible and also easy to associate with your business – and try sticking with a “.com” if possible. Buying a domain name may cost a few bucks, but it’s worth it to have your own business name.
Step 3: Find a Web Hosting Service
You can’t have a website without a host. The hosting service is where your data will be stored, on their servers. Depending on how much space you need now and in the future, it might be worth a few more bucks a month to ensure that your site won’t crash or get turned off. Free web hosting services usually don’t provide enough bandwidth for a major business website. I ALWAYS recommend GoDaddy. While I do know a fair share of developers and designers who have had bad experiences with them… I simply have not. Their customer service is always helpful and fast, it’s easy to upgrade, to add on email, the site itself if easy to navigate, and they’ve got TONS of options.
Step 4: Create a Site Map
Before you begin to put together your website in cyberspace, it needs to be put together on paper. Using a simple design, sketch out your pages: headers, content, images and positioning of these elements. Also, include which pages will link to other pages, how they will link, pulldown menu options and the like. Knowing roughly how you want it to look goes a long way to getting the focused finished product you want for your business. I like to browse templatemonster to get an idea for the trends in certain niches and then put mine and my client’s own spin on things as I’m sketching out a wireframe.
Step 5: Install WordPress
WordPress.org makes it easy to install their website program on your computer. If you do go with GoDaddy as your host, one-click installation is offered. You can then log into the content management system and look around to see how to set up pages, edit and upload content and more. There are many options with WordPress. And if you haven’t hired yourself a developer, GoDaddy will walk you through step-by-step setting up your key pages, choosing a theme, and publishing.
Step 6: Design your Website
For those who know coding, you can use HTML or CSS to change the pages to look like you want them to. HTML can be used in a simple text editor to get your content to show up the way that you want it. WordPress offers options for free themes for design templates to begin with. A variety of options are available, so take some time to peruse them. If you don’t like it, you can always change it. There are also millions of premium themes to purchase… but of course… I recommend hiring a professional to custom design a theme for you (I’m talking about me, here!). If anything, the purpose of this is to ensure your website doesn’t look like the clone of another.
Well, we’ve covered all six steps! Do you have any more questions? Shoot me over an email so we can get you squared away.